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Friday, February 25, 2011

Opening My Heart

I've been doing yoga for over ten years now. At times I've been able to really focus on it and practice 4-5 times a week. Other times, it's been more of a relaxing, calming exercise I do once a week. When I was pregnant with Miles I was very committed to my yoga practice. It made me feel strong yet flexible, focused yet relaxed. I was practicing 4-5 times a week up until two weeks before I gave birth....mostly in a regular class, not the pregnancy class. I did go to that one every now and then when it was too hot and I just needed to breathe.

There is a very strong community at my yoga studio and Zach and I became part of that community with Miles in my belly. Every Friday there was druming and singing at the end of class. We even attended a two hour drum circle one evening as part of a Yogathon. Being there with all these wonderful people who look at life and spirituality in a similar way as I do, made me feel more connected with myself and the baby inside of me. My last day of class before I gave birth, there was an impromptu singing session for Miles. Several beautiful women sang to him and blessed him with their love. I felt very nurtured and loved and positive. When Miles was born and I told my City Yoga community that Miles had Down syndrome, I am sure that they were devastated for me, but what they showed me was love, kindness, support and acceptance.

Yoga to me, is a way of life. A way of checking in with myself and balancing my emotional and physical body. All of the lessons that I've learned on my mat are transferable to my life in general. So why have I had such a hard time going back to yoga this year and a half since Miles was born? Why has it been so difficult for me to show up ad be open to myself?
Sure, the obvious reason is Time. Which is a huge culprit. I often can't find the time to go to yoga, what with Miles' therapy schedule and my auditions and work, it's difficult to follow a routine. But more than that, it's my own fear of what's inside of me. Sometimes it's too painful, sometimes it's just plain sad, but really it's everything. As much as I love and adore and admire my son, I am still dealing with the fact that he has Down syndrome and how that will affect me for the rest of my life. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. And in yoga, on my mat, by myself, it is hard to hide from my true feelings. But oh I am good at it. I am savvy at hiding and showing what's really going on inside. Even my husband, who I think knows me better than I know myself, is often fooled by me. I should win an Academy Award!

Today, I made it to class and I couldn't hide. I tried, but I couldn't hide. Maybe I didn't really want to hide. Who knows, the point is we were working on "heart openers". Right there--- Boom! I am toast. I love heart openers. And it's beautiful to be so open, but it makes me very vulnerable and there's nowhere to hide when you're offering your heart up to the world. Then the teacher was talking about self-love. So much of opening our hearts is opening up to ourselves, our love and devotion to ourselves. We even meditated on the things we love about ourselves! So here I am, trying to hate on myself, because that's been my M.O. lately, and be depressed, because I've been feeling aimless and unhappy and here she is telling me to dig into that. To dig past that and find me and my love for me and why I love me. Jeez!! Forget about it! The tears started flowing as all the love I have for myself, but which I've been hiding, came pouring out of me...to me. It's amazing when you feel sadness and joy at the same time. It's enlightening. I felt it when Miles was born. And I felt it today on my yoga mat.

Traci, the wonderful drummer and singer who along with our teacher Rebecca, used to lead the chanting on Fridays at the end of class when I was pregnant, happened to be back today. For the first time in who knows how long. I had no idea she was there, I'd been so focused on battling my demons during the class that I hadn't even seen her. But there she was with all her beautiful energy ready to play for us and lead us in this mantra about self love. Om Namah Shivaya.

Was it all a coincidence? I don't think so. I was in the right place at the right time today. I have been in a funk, a deep annoying funk that comes and goes and that no matter what I do, I can't seem to shake. And today in class, all this wonderful energies collided to speak to me to open up to myself. And in opening up to myself and accepting myself a little bit more, I am also able to accept my reality a little bit better.

I thought about Miles and what an amazing baby he is all on his own, but I do think that I had something to do with that while he was in the womb. All that love, joy and nurture that I felt while pregnant, he felt. All the singing, dancing, drumming that I did during my pregnancy, all of it is part of who I am and it's a part of who he is. It's no surprise that Miles loves music and that he's not just into the drums, but the guitar and the piano. It's in his soul. Yoga? It's also a huge part of who he is. It's what he does in Physical Therapy. Literally-- he does yoga.

One of the misconceptions I had about people with Down syndrome was that they were nothing like their parents. I thought that they were more like each other than like us. But as I continue to learn on this journey, Miles is more like us that I ever thought he would be. He is his own person, that's for sure, but he came from us and has us in him. And that makes me smile, which is a nice feeling for me since I've been feeling so sad. Been faking it on the outside, but struggling with it on the inside. And today, I was able to let my guard down long enough to remember that I do love myself. I love myself for so many reasons that I can't even list them here! I love myself even though I am messed up inside. I know I still have a lot of work to do and I know I'm gonna try to hide from my feelings most of the time, but that's just part of the process. Today was a breakthrough. It gave me some hope. And a little hope can go a long way!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Desert Vacation

We're on a little family vacation. Just the three of us. A little road trip to the California desert, one of my favorite places. And we are all sick! Miles has a nasal infection and has been on antibiotics for the last 5 days, but he doesn't seem to be getting any better. So I talked to the pediatrician and she gave him a stronger dose. Poor guy, so little and on antibiotics. But he's been sick for too long now and if this will help, then I'll do it! Whatever it takes. Seeing my baby with circles under his eyes, blotchy face, snotty and drippy, unable to sleep or breathe well for over three weeks is terrible. And it's hell at night too!

Last night he was up almost every hour and a half crying uncontrollably. Zach and I also came down with some kind of cold, so we had taken nighttime medicine to try and sleep. Bad idea! We struggled taking turns, dragging ourselves out of bed to tend to little sick Miles. I had no patience and couldn't seem to calm Miles down, so finally Zach took over and let me get some rest. He's truly amazing in these moments when I just can't handle it anymore. He comes in and takes care of everything. He was able to calm Miles down enough to get a few hours of rest. This morning, we both looked like depressed zombies shuffling through this rented house, while Miles crawled around at high speed, yelling with excitement! How is it possible that he can be sick yet have so much energy? At one point after breakfast, we lied on the couch watching Miles play but unable to play with him from our lack of energy. We were waiting, looking for any sign that he might be tired and ready for his nap. I can see the humor in it now, but this morning I was not having it!

Yes, I am feeling much better tonight. Zach is too. And Miles, though still snotty and congested, was able to fall asleep with no fuss. Zach and I enjoyed a calm dinner, as opposed to last night's crying mess! One of us kept running into his room while the other made sure the food didn't burn and in the end it took us like 2 hours to finally eat. This is not the way I wanted our vacation to start, but I can at least say that we did make the best out of our day. After restful morning naps, we went out for a stroll, rented bikes, swam in the heated pool and read our books. Not too shabby! Miles summed it all up by clapping a lot this afternoon. He just figured out how to clap his hands a couple of days ago and spent most of the afternoon excitedly clapping away at everything we did.

It might be hard to have a calm and relaxing vacation with a baby, but it's not hard to have fun. So that's what we're doing; we're having fun despite the rough beginning. And Zach and I are still managing to find some quiet time for reading, writing and the hot tub. I count my blessings!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yep, He's Really a Toddler

I'm struggling a little bit these days because my very easy little baby is turning into a full fledged toddler. I've gotten so used to Miles being easier than most babies, he would nap anywhere, eat anything, use his high chair, endlessly play with his toys without needing my attention...the list goes on. Now, Mr. Miles is Mr. Busy! He is constantly blabbing, wanting to know what things are, pointing to the fan and the lights and the doors and people asking "ya" or "aya" over and over and over again. He's up at 6am talking, standing in his crib, ready to start the party. The sun's not even up and he wants to play play play. Playtime all the time!

These days, food time is tantrum time. Not all the time, but often enough that I get nervous around meal time. I'll sit him in his high chair and he knows he's about to get food. He yells, "Don't tie me down!" or at least that's what I imagine him yelling if he could speak. Instead he screams, thrashes and makes angry faces at me. The thing is it doesn't last too long and I usually manage to get him to taste the food. Once he takes a few bites and realizes I'm not trying to poison him, he'll eat. Though not necessarily the whole meal.

In the last week, Miles' curiosity and ability to make connections has exploded! He's busy and constantly wanting to communicate or play or be held...there's always something going on. He's behaving completely normal...like a toddler. I'm just not used to that. All my friends with toddlers have been running after their kids for the last six months and I've been sitting back thinking, "Hmm, that's not gonna be me". Now I'm eating my words cause it is me! And I'm exhausted. But happy. So happy at all the amazing progress Miles has made.

Besides the constant blabbing and pointing at things, I can hear that his babbling has become more complex with more consonants and vowels. He is also blowing bubbles in the bathtub. He sticks his face in the water and blows bubbles! I think it's time for him to start another round of swim lessons. He's also a great imitator. He'll imitate both sounds and gestures, which really makes me feel like his cognitive skills are strong. He's been crawling now since the beginning of January and getting better at it every day. Also, he is standing for longer periods of time and not only cruising back and forth while holding on to something, hcan now pivot, go around the coffee table and go from one couch to another. He's just getting so much stronger.

Miles has also become a guitar virtuoso. Okay maybe not quite a virtuoso, but for a 17 month old baby, he can play! Put a guitar in front of him and he no longer mashes it with his hands, he actually strums and uses his little fingers to touch the individual strings, making beautiful sounds. It makes me smile just thinking about how far he's come. I put him in music classes when he was just 5 months old. He couldn't even sit up on his own and I didn't know anyone in the class. All their babies were sitting or even crawling. It was hard showing up to this group of complete strangers and cheer on my baby who could barely put together what was happening. It is now a year later and and when the teacher takes out the guitar, Miles knows exactly what's happening. He perks up and crawls right to her and starts strumming her guitar. And at the end of class, when the teacher holds out the pick for the kids to strum with, he knows exactly what to do. I don't know if I can fully express how awesome it feels to see Miles hold the pick between his two tiny fingers and hold it up to the strings. It's like magic.

So if Miles is doing so well and I'm so happy, what am I even struggling with?
I'm struggling with time and schedules and routines. I'm constantly tired and need more patience to deal with....everything! I know that Miles, and children in general, thrives with routines and the proper amount of sleep. But ever since our trip to Panama it's been very difficult to balance it all. He isn't sleeping well at night, has not been able to fully shake off the cold he caught in Panama, and his mind is exploding with life. Add to that my constantly changing work schedule, his new therapy schedule and my need to make "me" time, that it's no wonder I feel foggy, tired and negative.

What's the remedy? Breathing, exercising, and carving out time for everything. Slowing down even if it feels like I need to speed up. It's easier said than done, but I need to try it because I can't go on like this. What I really, really want is a vacation...by myself. I want to get pampered in mineral waters and do yoga and eat healthy and write and read and daydream. But for now, I'll take 10 minutes to sit here and daydream about it all, calm my breath and know that it will be all right. Right?